Move over, zinc and vitamins C and D. Supporting the complexities of the immune system for consumers of all ages is essential—and several ingredients not atop the “obvious” list can play important roles.
According to a 2018 review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, “It was first shown in the 1960s that bovine colostral immunoglobulins protected calves against gastrointestinal [GI] bacterial and viral infections.”1 That discovery led to human clinical studies, a large number of which the review noted “have now shown efficacy of bovine immunoglobulins in preventing natural infection in humans as well as in animal infection models.”
Yeast and beta-glucans
Beta-glucans and yeasts—often found in foods like shiitake mushrooms, cereals and baker’s yeast—are proving useful in supporting a healthy immune system. A 2021 study from Molecular Nutrition & Food Research concluded, “There is emerging evidence that dietary components, including yeast-derived beta-glucans, can aid host defense against pathogens by modulating inflammatory and antimicrobial activity of neutrophils and macrophages.”2
A 2019 review noted that a healthy and balanced diet is important to help support the immune system—calling out the benefits of omega-3s specifically.3 It elaborated, “The impact of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on the immune system has been investigated for decades, with special focus on the omega-3 PUFAs alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)… Both omega-3 and omega-6-derived metabolites have important immune-regulatory functions.”
A review published in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology noted, “The beneficial effects of probiotics have been demonstrated in many diseases.4 One of the major mechanisms of probiotic action is through the regulation of host immune response.” Although further research on this relationship is needed, the article concluded, “Probiotics may provide novel approaches for both disease prevention and treatment.”
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Immune health rising – digital magazine.
Content writing and journalism are high on the list of Joy Choquette’s interests. Writing professionally for the past 12 years, her work has appeared in national magazines, regional newspapers, and on lots and lots of websites. She specializes in health and wellness, business, and environmental topics. Learn more by visiting her website or find her on LinkedIn.
1 Ulfman LH et al. “Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection.” Front Nutr. 2018;5:52.
2 De Marco Castro E, Calder PC, Roche HM. “β-1,3/1,6-Glucans and Immunity: State of the Art and Future Directions.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2021;65(1):e1901071.
3 Gutiérrez S, Svahn SL, Johansson ME. “Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells.” Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5028.
4 Yan F, Polk DB. “Probiotics and immune health.” Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496-501.